The application deadline for the summer 2013 Maine Youth Wilderness Program — nine days and eight night immersed in the wilderness of Baxter State Park — is Feb. 4, though some past materials have stated the deadline to be mid-February, according to Barbara Bentley, president of the nonprofit Friends of Baxter State Park, which organizes the program.

Photo courtesy of Bill Bentley
Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Graduates of 2012

For the past four years, the program has been an opportunity for Maine high school sophomores and juniors to participate in an innovative and hands-on learning experience in the Maine outdoors. And thanks to the support from generous donors and members of Friends of Baxter State Park, there is no direct cost to the students.

Led by experienced wilderness educators from the Chewonki Foundation, the students work with a variety of specialists as they backpack from one end of the park to the other, camping at different sites, including several nights in the backcountry at Russell Pond. Baxter State Park staff collaborates with FBSP in planning the program so that the students can work toward understanding the wilderness through science, art, storytelling, photography, writing, history and recreation.

Photo courtesy of Bill Bentley
The Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership graduates of 2011.

“This program embodies the central mission of FBSP to promote education about the values of wilderness preservation at Baxter State Park and sets in motion a journey that will last a lifetime,” states FBSP on the organizations official website. “Baxter State Park is their outdoor classroom as the participants share in an experience that is becoming rare as they learn a very important message to share in their schools and communities: wilderness preservation is an essential value for humans as well as for all other species that rely upon this land.”

Ten participants are selected (five girls and five boys), as well as six alternates, in March.

The program begins in April when participants receive required reading materials and other assignments; they then submit a project proposal in May. The field experience in Baxter State Park is the second week in August. Participants present their final projects in a follow-up session after their stay in the Park.

To apply, download an application form from or call 763-3014 or 542-5207 and FBSP will send you the application. For information about the program, email or send a letter to PO Box 609, Union, ME 04862.

Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...